I was extremely excited today to receive an email from Clearleft that I had been selected to be a beta tester for their new application, Silverback. Silverback is a user testing application for Macs only that makes use of the hardware available to create a pseudo-user testing environment on demand.
I ran a few tests on coworkers this morning using the application and was simply blown away by its ease of use and useful features. Within 60 seconds I had my first project setup, my first user profile created and was running a test of Clockwork’s products. The most exciting part came when I ended the first test and exported the Quicktime movie file that was created.
Opening up the movie I was greeted by a full scale representation of my desktop, along with a picture-in-picture view of the user in the lower right hand corner. The application recorded everything that the webcam could see for facial reactions as well as audio from my Macbook Pro’s built in microphone. The screencast of the entire desktop allowed for me to watch what the user was doing as well as reported any clicks with small overlaid circles.
This type of basic user testing functionality built into my laptop and organized neatly in one application simply blew me away. It’s a great substitute for anyone without a dedicated testing lab (which few small scale companies have available), and even if you do have one; it makes for an awesome portable test station, no extra cameras or one way mirrors needed.
I’ll be posting more about my beta experiences in the near future, but it would be suffice to say that Silverback will be a must have application for anyone working on creating websites or interfaces for web applications. Since it allows for full desktop usage I’m sure it would also be super useful for anyone testing desktop applications as well.
For the latest on Silverback, you can follow the Silverback Twitter Account.
Enjoy the screenshots! Click them to view a larger version on Flickr: